Wednesday, May 9, 2012
I should point out that I wasn't even in a huge rush. I had a day happening, but I wasn't running late enough to feel impatient or cranky. Just, you know -- there was a pace I needed to maintain. And part of that pace involved coffee. Regular readers know I'm a Slave to the Bean. There's nothing wrong with this.
So. I go into Starbuck's. A perfectly pleasant, green-aproned young woman is working behind the counter. It isn't too crowded. There are a few bespectacled, goateed frustrated screenwriters hunched over MacBooks, but that's it. As per federally-mandated requirements, Norah Jones is playing over the sound system.
It's a sunny morning. There is harmony here. All is right with the world. I approach the counter.
Green Apron Girl: Welcome to Starbuck's! What can I get for you?
Me: I'd like a Venti coffee, please! The medium roast is fine.
Green Apron Girl provides me with a perfectly nice, service-industry smile. Her boss would be proud. If there was a comment card handy, and there was a question about whether or not I was receiving friendly service, I would already be prepared to check the "Extremely Satisfied" box based on that smile alone.
She looks at the coffee dispensers behind her, then turns back to me.
Green Apron: Um, we're actually out of the Medium Roast today.
Odd, I think. This is an establishment that is known for providing coffee. And they really only make three kinds of coffee: Light, Medium and Dark. It occurs to me that it's slightly remiss for a coffee seller to not have one-third of its selection available to consumers such as myself. And yet in many less-developed, third world nations, there are people who are forced to go through their days without any kind of coffee or coffee-tasting substitute at all. There are dictators in those countries who selfishly hoard all the coffee for themselves, content to let the citizenry suffer. So this situation here clearly doesn't merit my raising an "issue" with the barista. It doesn't require a "snit." Or a "huff."
But I am flexible. I am a tree that bends in the wind. So. I smile at Green Apron Girl.
Me: That's ok. The dark roast will be fine then.
Green Apron: Coming right up!
She turns back to the dispensers with my empty, eager-to-be-filled-with-java-nectar cup. After a moment of pause, she turns back again.
Green Apron: We actually still have to open up a fresh batch of the dark roast in the back? Because the delivery just came in? So it'll actually be a while until that one is ready?
Before responding, I take a moment to look around the facility, to make sure I'm in the right place. it could be that I'm not actually in Starbuck's. Maybe I'm in a nail salon. Or a laundromat. Or a Quicki Lube Oil Change. Perhaps that would explain why they don't actually have any coffee to sell me here. I take a quick assessment: big oak tables. Screenwriters. Goatees. Green aprons. Norah Jones. Check.
I sigh audibly. It is a sigh clearly illustrating that I am becoming a Confused and Disappointed Consumer, but I am also a rational person who knows about the larger scheme of the universe: third-world, nations coffeeless societies, dictators, etc.
Me: Well, then I guess it's the Light Roast for me then.
Green Apron: Okey dokey!
She turns to pour me a piping hot cup of the blonde roast that tastes less like coffee and more like day-old urine-extract tea, then turns back to me.
Green Apron: You know what? That batch is still brewing, so it'll be like just a couple minutes.
I look at her, then at my watch. Then at the screenwriters. Then back at her.
Me: So basically, you're telling me that you have no coffee to sell me this morning.
Green Apron: We do have coffee. It'll just be --
Me: No, you actually don't. You're a Starbuck's coffee house and at this moment, you're totally unprepared to sell me coffee.
Green Apron girl looks down at the counter. She is not smiling anymore. There is the distinct possibility that she's about to cry. For all know, this is her first day on the job.
Green Apron: I'm really sorry you have to wait. It'll just be a second. I'm so sorry.
I have the opportunity to shake it off and be a Good Person. But do I?
Me: Well, how long will it take?
Green Apron: Just like one minute. I think it's almost done brewing already.
I sigh again. This time, it's a sigh of Passive-Aggressive Outrage.
A minute later, I'm handed my cup of light roast coffee. I pull out my wallet.
Green Apron: You don't need to pay. I'm sorry you had to wait.
Me: No, I'll pay.
Green Apron: I insist. it's on the house, and I apologize. This was totally inconvenient for you.
I could've insisted harder, or left money on the counter. This girl spends her days serving coffee and scones to strangers. She may actually hate her green apron, and curse the fact that she hears Norah Jones in her dreams. I could've paid, despite her gesture.
But I did not.
I left, with a free cup of coffee in my hand. Off to continue on with my day, while the girl in the green apron stayed behind to continue hers, her smile ready for the next needy, entitled caffeine addict.
Say it with me:
...and then I felt like an asshole for the rest of the day.
(On a completely different note, I have something up at DadCentric today. You can check it out here.)
Posted by Didactic Pirate at 7:04 AM
What say ye?